Friday, October 19, 2012

Follow-Up Friday - Useful Reader Comments

It's Friday, so I'm highlighting interesting and useful reader comments received in the past week.  They include:

1)  In Who Knew? Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are Cousins! (12 October 2012):

*  Martin said:  "Please do not credit Thomas Kemp with this. This was discovered by long ago by (among others) Bill Reitwiesner and Gary Boyd Roberts. All presidential genealogy started at the NEHGS. Mr. Kemp (a one time employee at NEHGS for a very short time) is just exploiting that for his new business. He gives no credit to the people who truly did the research. I find that shameful. You shouldn't link to such stuff."

My comment:  Thomas Kemp did not claim that he did the research, and the graphic had a list of sources at the bottom of the graphic.  His company (which is not new) did put the graphic together based on the sources reviewed.  I do think he should have included the Bill Reitwiesner website and the Roberts book to the list.  I don't think it exploited  NEHGS - it was informative and humorous and was intended for a genealogy audience.  I agree that NEHGS has been in the forefront of presidential genealogy, but other companies have done some, especially the celebrity genealogy bit.  I think that genealogy is promoted through graphics like this, and that's only good, IMHO.

*  Carmen Johnson noted:  "It is really interesting when you look at the list of Presidents who have no common ancestry with any other Presidents. It is a short list. Ronald Reagan, John F. Kennedy and Andrew Johnson. I am actually related to Andrew Johnson - he was my great great grandfather's first cousin. Calvin Coolidge has the most common lines with other Presidents with 19 and Bush 41 & 43 share 18 common lines."

*  Martin responded:  "Just to clarify, Ms. Johnson is incorrect in many of her assertions. Presidents with no known presidential cousins are: Jefferson, Monroe, Jackson, Polk, Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Arthur, McKinley, Wilson, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Reagan, and Clinton. That's 13 out of 43 men to hold the office or roughly 30%. Additionally the Bushes have the most lines in common with other presidents at 18. Coolidge, FDR, and Ford are tied for second place at 17. See: Ancestors of American Presidents by Gary Boyd Roberts 2009 edition, pp. 591-593."

My comment:  Thank you to Carmen and Martin for their notes.  I know that I've seen other resources (I think family trees on sites like that take some of the Presidents back into English history and show common ancestors in the 1200-1600 time period that results in cousinhood.  I don't think that those were considered in the Reitwiesner or Roberts work.  I'm not saying they're correct - just that more relationships have been asserted.

2)  On Finding Daniel Spangler's Probate Records on FamilySearch - the Russell Index System (15 October 2012):

*  Jeff Hodge commented:  "This has got to be the mother of all citations. If you can write one, Randy, you'll be the crown Prince of Citations!"

My comment:  Arrggghh, a source citation challenge.   Am I up to it?  

The  sample FamilySearch citation for an entry in this collection is:

"Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Probate Records. 1683-1994" index and images, FamilySearch (accessed 7 October 2011). entry for Mary Green, will probated 1842; citing Probate Records, reference number Box 10, 100-149 123; City of Philadelphia Register of Wills Office. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States.

 Using this as a model, a source citation for the Sale of Real Estate item would be:

"Pennsylvania, Probate Records, 1683-1994," digital images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 15 October 2012), citing Mercer County, Pennsylvania Orphans Court Docket, 1850-1858, Volumes D-E, "Sale of Real Estate" entry for Daniel Spangler, 15 September 1851, Volume D, Page 93 (image 55 of 684).

In my particular case, we have a record in a probate court clerk's record book, microfilmed by FamilySearch, digitized by FamilySearch, and included in a statewide record collection.  The closest citation model that I could see in Evidence! Explained is on page 527 (Section 10:33, First Edition) for an online image of a specific probate record entry.  Here is my attempt to create an EE-like source citation:

Mercer County, Pennsylvania Orphans Court Dockets, "Sale of Real Estate" entry for Daniel Spangler, 15 September 1851, Volume D, Page 93; "Pennsylvania, Probate Records, 1683-1994," digital images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 15 October 2012), citing Mercer County, Pennsylvania Orphans Court Docket, 1850-1858, Volumes D-E, image 55 of 684.

Whew...if those more skilled in the Source citation arts want to help me out, I would appreciate it!  I tried...hard!

Thanks, Jeff!  Now I can add one of the above to my Event entry in my genealogy program.  I'm afraid that I'm probably the "Court Jester of Source Citations" rather than the Crown Prince.

3)  On Ancestry Matches Death, Burial, Cemetery, Obituary Records with Family Tree People, Except it Doesn't (17 October 2012):

*  Geolover noted:  "Interesting, I had not noticed this peculiar item. Be aware that the 'hint' total is not strictly a search-engine result for people in your tree. In addition to items you have already attached, there are also items that others have attached (rightly or wrongly) to individuals in their trees. Many of these were just silly irrelevant items that others mindlessly clicked on.  Presenting such awesome totals must be the reason that the Member Trees were indexed the other day, for perhaps the third time this year."

My comments:  You raise an interesting point - are these (a) actual Hints found by Ancestry's matching of persons in my tree to records in collections, or are they (b) Hints previously attached by other persons in their trees for the same person in my tree?  Perhaps they are both (a) and (b). After looking at my match list in some detail,  I think that they are (a) - the result of matching records to persons in my tree, but I don't know for sure.  There are no Ancestry Member Trees in the list.  Frankly, I've pondered listing the most common sources provided on the match list for at least a portion of the list. 

*  Kristi Hancock offered:  "I have had the same dreams of this "Ideal Ancestry World"! I have found a little bit of a work around that I figured out when Ancestry started the link on the 1940 Census page to see your hints from that database only.  When I go to that link for my tree, this is what is in the address bar:

"The last four digits (2442) is the code for the 1940 Census database. Now, go to another database and look in the address bar for its "code". For example, the code for the Texas Birth Index, 1903-1997 is 8781.  
If you go back to that original link and change the 2442 to 8781, you will see the hints for your tree in that database.

"You may already know this, but I thought I would share just in case!"

My comment:  Kristi, you are a genius!!  What a great tip!  I did not know that, but will be sure to use it.  Thank you.  Note that the number after "tree" in the link above is Kristi's tree, not mine or yours.  Your URL will look different.

4)  On Historical Records of a Real Santa Claus (21 December 2011):

*  Anonymous noted:  "Well, Santa Claus was my Grandfather's cousin. My understanding was he was a hell fire and brimstone preacher. I remember my mother telling me she had a relative named Santa Clause. At Karen K...he was named that before the term Santa Clause. He actually had all of "Santa Clauses aka North Pole" mail delivered to him. He got thousands of letters, and I read somewhere that he wanted to try to answer them all. My mother also told me of seeing a check Mae West had sent him, why I don't know."

My comments: I get comments like this occasionally on my older posts about famous people (Lincoln, Boone, Claus, etc.).  I appreciate them - this adds even more to the Santa Clause story!

Thank you to my readers for their notes and comments.  I enjoy the interaction and hope that it continues.  I know that the Captcha spam filter is a challenge and you all have to overcome it.  It does keep almost all spam away.

Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver


Michael Hait said...

With digital images, there are two approaches. You can either cite the original record first, then describe the format; or you can cite the image as a digital publication. I prefer the first option, because digital images--like microfilm--are to be generally treated like the original.

Here is how I would cite the record you describe:

Mercer County, Pennsylvania, Orphans Court Docket D, page 93, Petition of Carringer and Robinson, 15 Sep 1851; digital image, "Pennsylvania, Probate Records, 1683-1994," *FamilySearch* ( : accessed 15 October 2012); source not identified but likely FHL microfilm no. 878,977.

The FHL source microfilm is relatively easy to find using the Catalog. Including this in the citation is recommended because FamilySearch did not scan the original records--they scanned the FHL microfilm. It is not always easy to determine the source, but if you can, you should include it.

Hope this helps. ;)

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